Ten last-minute Cyber Monday preparations for your e-commerce site

Cyber Monday 2013 was a landmark day in online retail and with this year’s event only weeks away, there are a number of last minute preparations e-sellers need to be making right now in order to take full advantage of the benefits headed their way. 

The craziness of the holiday season is just around the corner - Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and Boxing Day are only weeks away and Cyber Monday in particular is the day that kick's off many online retailers' golden quarter.

According to Experian, Cyber Monday in 2013 was the ‘single biggest retail day online that the UK has ever witnessed’, with online retail records being shattered as UK internet users made 115 million visits to retail sites, up two million from 2012. In order to have a successful season, it’s essential that you not only prepare your site, but your support team as well.

As always with e-commerce, the finer details will make the biggest difference to your sales, so here are some key last-minute dos and do nots to take on when preparing for the busiest shopping time of the year.

1. Put yourself in your customers shoes

Go back to basics and think like your customers do. It is surprising how many e-sellers forget about the most crucial element in the whole of the e-commerce model – the customer. Go through the entire order process from beginning to end. Then do this again on a number of different devices in different locations.

Many people now shop on the go, whether that is on their commute, in the hairdressers or a coffee shop. They will not necessarily be sat in a static environment using fast wi-fi, so keep on testing.

If you find something is slowing your shopping experience down or creating a barrier to purchase, fix it quickly. It is better for you to find any glitches than your potential customers.

2. PPC marketing

Be prepared to up or adjust your digital marketing budget on Cyber Monday and throughout the busy season. Being proactive, and knowing how much you are willing to tweak your bids, will give you the ability to act quickly when something works, or perhaps, when something did not work as well as you might have hoped.

This might mean you need to change or pause some ads but with the majority of traffic looking for deals and offers, now is the time to direct shoppers to your best deals.

Update your ad copy and put together new ads for the festive season and consider doing Cyber Monday-specific ad copy to attract the deal hunters on the day. Do not forget to change your landing pages to draw attention to any special offers you might be running and make your offers easy to find.

Carefully monitor these campaigns throughout the day to ensure that any budget caps are not preventing potential sales. You may find that a traditionally poor ad group suddenly starts to perform, so be ready and prepared to action changes as Cyber Monday progresses.

3. Email marketing campaigns

The busy season means a higher volume of marketing emails will be sent, so now is a good time to test your email campaigns. Even slight increases in open and click rates can translate into significant uplifts in sales. The most impactful areas to test are the subject line, offers, time you send, design and messaging. Again, specific Cyber Monday copy may perform well for you.

4. Check your stock levels

Remember, all of your promotional items need to be fully in stock. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But it is surprising how many retailers forget this factor in the rush to get as many bargains on to the site as quickly as possible. If you cannot fulfil them and people have to wait days or maybe weeks for the item they have purchased, this could be damaging to your brand.

Think about the messaging you are going to include for out of stock items – can you facilitate a pre-order?

5. Security is key

Cyber attacks are at an all-time high during the holiday shopping season, especially on Cyber Monday. Fear of click fraud and malware can ruin chances of a sale. If you have a secure payment provider, wear their badge with pride. Shoppers are more likely to buy when they know their data is secure, so by increasing security can mean a bigger bottom line.

A customer makes a decision about your site within the first 30 seconds of viewing it. Displaying card icons and security certificates clearly in the footer will gain their trust.

6. Delivery options

If you were ever going to test alternative shipping methods, this is the time of year to check it out. Delivery is now one of the top considerations for an online shopper and can be the deciding factor between a sale and an abandoned cart.

Make sure you present your customers with the best value possible because that is exactly what they’ll be looking for. Most retailers will be offering next-day or two-day delivery times on Cyber Monday, so take a look at your own delivery lead times.

7. Will your competitors out do you?

The more options you give your customers to receive their purchase, the better. If you have a store in addition to your e-commerce offering, the option to collect in store may be more appealing to your customers, plus it gives you the opportunity to up sell more items to them when they come into your store.
It is the small details like this that can make all the difference.

8. Be ready for an increased demand on customer service support

With increased traffic and escalated sales there will inevitably be an increase in customer service requests - not to mention increased pressure on pick, pack and despatch. Ensure your most senior staff are all able to work and knowledge is up to speed.

Your online customers remember how you treat them during the holidays, and will remember this going forward. So if a retailer goes above and beyond for a customer, customers are more likely to trust and hopefully become loyal.

9. Marketing opportunities

Cyber Monday is a fantastic opportunity to make the most of the increased traffic visiting your site and expand your database.
Be sure to include newsletter sign up call-to-action buttons around your site and promote future deals and sales you may be running clearly around the site. Provide these new customers with a quick and hassle free check out process. Be memorable to your customers by creating an innovative, but easy service that they will want to come back to.

10. Get more social over the holiday season

Social channels like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are great ways to reach existing and new customers with your holiday offers. Think about using these channels to create anticipation but remember that your competitors will also be doing this too.

Try not to show your cards too soon as they could potentially tweak their offers to compete with yours. There is a fine line to walk between going too early and too late.

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